Published in Health Care

Spectrum Health expands COVID-19 testing to 1,000 people daily

BY Monday, April 27, 2020 04:11pm

GRAND RAPIDS — New supplies and equipment have enabled Spectrum Health to test 1,000 people a day for COVID-19.

The Grand Rapids-based health system has broadened eligibility and now tests patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms. Specimens are sent to a regional lab that can run 1,000 tests daily and typically turns out results within 24 hours.

Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker COURTESY PHOTO

Spectrum Health previously reserved testing for people with severe symptoms, plus employees, hospitalized patients suspected of having COVID-19, and other high-risk patients.

“Our goal has always been to test as many people as possible with suspected symptoms but we’ve been limited by our resources,” said Susan Smith, senior director of laboratory services at Spectrum Health. “With additional testing supplies and advanced equipment, we can begin to meet the demand for testing in our region. This is a big step in our continued fight against this deadly virus.”

Patients tested still need to go through an initial screening by a care provider and obtain an order. Specimen collection is done by appointment, according to Spectrum.

In six weeks, Spectrum Health screened more than 50,000 people and has completed 10,000 tests, fewer than 1,000 of which as of last Friday came back positive, President and CEO Tina Freese Decker said Monday during a Zoom gathering of health care leaders in Grand Rapids hosted by the West Michigan Policy Forum.

“We have the capacity to do more. We just have to get more of that equipment,” Freese Decker said.

As of Monday, Michigan had 38,210 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, an increase of 432 cases from the day before. There have been 3,407 deaths in the state from COVID-19, a one-day increase of 92.

Based on predictive modeling, the peak in West Michigan will occur in the coming weeks, said Peter Hahn, CEO of Metro Health-University of Michigan Health.

“We’ve yet to see a true surge, or what we call internally a wave, in West Michigan yet,” Hahn said. “The modeling tends to suggest we are going to see an uptick pretty soon here in a few weeks, may the end of May. It’s just a matter of how big and how wide that wave is.”

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